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I have recently started to hear audiobooks in my daily commute, giving me 40 minutes a day of "book listening". However, though it's my first time on the audiobook world, I have started noticing some advantages and disadvantages and I would like to be prepared for these in the future.

Still, I want to extend my scenario of car-driving to any other situation where we can use audiobooks, probably while doing something else. So, what advices can you give regarding audiobooks to boost up our productivity while listening to them?

Example of the advices I'm looking for:

  • Try to get audiobooks in separate chapters, so that any problem in the playing does not throw you off completely of where you are
  • Try to avoid highly technical books unless they are easy for you, much data is harder to listen tan read those

Things I haven't figured out yet:

  • How to approach note-taking if you're in some other activity?
  • How to properly perform a good analysis of the book if you don't materially have it?
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up vote 2 down vote accepted

First of all I would recommend listening to books that are unrelated to your main line of work. This is a great way to expand your horizons, and to keep your mind off work while you are driving. This might actually enhance your creativity and problem-solving abilities when you do get to work.

In short, don't take it so seriously. Listen for pleasure. Listen to fiction.

On the other hand, if you insist on this being a productive activity in itself, then I would recommend audio courses. Humanities, such as history, philosophy, literature, and psychology work best. Maybe very high-level science courses, which gloss over the math. Such courses typically include a course guide book, which you can use to take notes or even as notes after you drive. There is usually even a final exam on the web that you can take.

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The note-taking you can approach with bookmarks. I doubt that your car CD player will support bookmarks, but most MP3 players and smartphones do. Just go over the bookmarks regularly.

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Listening to audiobooks could be useful when you couldn't find a good spot to take down notes and read the actual book but would just like to get started and give your brain some time to laser focus on the book. But if you don't have the actual book or the ebook, for the purpose of learning, you would at least need to have some note-taking tool in hand to avoid your brain from having to multitask listening, bookmarking and commenting/taking down notes at the same time.

You could start with forming an outline of the topics as you listen, taking down notes and limiting yourself to a certain number of topics in one go and then going over what you've listened for that period of time to determine if you need to revisit some chapters/sections before proceeding. You could then organize your notes to form an analysis of the book.

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